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Leap-Year-Dog

Training Trick

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So River is about 4 1/2 months old now and I've been working on a variety of obedience commands and fun tricks. Because of something cute River did the other day with my roommate, I've decided to try to teach her what I'm calling "Hold hands" - which is basically giving us both paws while she's sitting. The strange thing is, she'll only do it when we're sitting in a chair or when we're standing. When I sit on the ground with her, it's like I'm not high enough up and she won't do it. Anyway, the reason for this post is that it seems to me that River has very bad balance while sitting. I've noticed, while doing this trick, but also in general that River falls over a lot when she's sitting. Like, she'll sit when I tell her to but then as soon as I give her the okay, most of the time she falls/lays down immediately. Also, when doing this "Hold hands" trick she tends to loose her balance/fall down a lot before she even gets close to giving me her second paw. I'm just wondering if this is normal for a puppy this age and if her balance will get better as she ages? Because I was hoping to be able to teach her "Sit Pretty" but at the moment it doesn't look like that will happen due to the fact that she can't balance like that. Or if it doesn't sound like a balance issue, then what do you think it may be? I can tell you one thing - she never acts like she's in pain or anything like that (it doesn't seem like it hurts her to sit) - but sometimes it does seem like she lays down just due to...."laziness" (I by no means think she's lazy, just the most appropriate word I can think of at the moment).

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My 2 year old dog prefers to lay down over sitting, especially if the floor is at all slippery--his butt tends to slide out from under him! That part sounds like just laziness. The "sit pretty"-type pose you describe takes a lot of muscle and is not natural for a dog built like most border collies are. I tried to teach my dog to do that one, and he fell over backwards once and now will not even try it. :rolleyes: Go slowly. Allow your dog to gradually build up the necessary strength. Make sure she is sitting squarely and not with her hips flopped out to one side. Reward her at first for just bringing both paws a tiny bit off the ground, gradually building up the height and the time she has to hold the position.

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The "sit pretty"-type pose you describe takes a lot of muscle and is not natural for a dog built like most border collies are. I tried to teach my dog to do that one, and he fell over backwards once and now will not even try it. :rolleyes: Go slowly. Allow your dog to gradually build up the necessary strength. Make sure she is sitting squarely and not with her hips flopped out to one side. Reward her at first for just bringing both paws a tiny bit off the ground, gradually building up the height and the time she has to hold the position.

 

This is excellent advice. Also, realize that when River becomes an adolescent, she might struggle with this one.

 

I taught it to Dean bit by bit before he was a year old. When he was a little over a year old, he suddenly started flopping over like Nisno's dog did. I waited a while and let him get through whatever stage of physical and mental development he was in at that time, and then retrained it. It's his best trick now.

 

I'm not saying that will happen with ever dog, of course, but it is always important to remember that as their bodies and minds develop, some behaviors might become challenging where they were not before.

 

Based on what you wrote about River's balance, I would probably hold off on working this one and work on balance in the sit and the down. This is a good exercise that I learned about for this, and I do this with my older dogs to help them stay flexible:

 

1. Use food to lure your dog into a straight, standing tall sit. Click (or mark) and give the treat. What you are looking for in this sit is for the dog to be holding his or herself upright. If the back legs flop at all, hold the treat a little higher to get the position.

 

2. Again using food, lure the dog into a down. Keep an eye on your dog's back legs. You want the dog to hold the back legs upright. If they flop, have the dog sit again, lure the down again, and reward before the dog flops.

 

3. Lure the dog back up into a sit. Click, treat, release. Let the dog walk around a bit.

 

Start off with sets of no more than 3 or 4 of these every other day. Gradually build up to 5 or 6 sets, and start to pause as the dog holds the position before giving the click/treat.

 

Once the dog holds both the sit and the down without flopping for 5 seconds, I might move on to the beg.

 

I would always keep in mind that she's a puppy and she is still developing muscles and balance. I would keep it brief and keep it fun.

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You could also teach 'shake', then 'high 5' (one paw to your vertical palm), 'high 10' (both paws to both your palms), 'Wave' (same as 'high 5' but without the your hand). All of these will help develop your pups strength that is needed for 'sit pretty'. It took Hoku almost till he was two for him to be able to hold and balance in 'sit pretty'. Once he had that, we taught him to stand up on his hind legs from there. We are now working on his walking on two legs .... :rolleyes:

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Thank you guys for the advice! Yeah, River knows (and when I say knows - I mean she knows what I want, I'm pretty sure, but she doesn't listen consistently yet) Right Paw, Left Paw (basically shake, although she likes to do them lying down if I let her), and high five. She's starting to do "hold hands" as her "Go-To" trick now (since I've been working on it a lot lately) so I think I will, hopefully, easily be able to teach her "high 10." Also, I haven't started working on "Wave" yet, mainly because I always forget too.

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Don't worry about the dog loosing balance on the "pretty sit" command, it takes ages for them to get the muscular memory to balance perfectly on just their back legs and tail.

 

For example i use a clicker and for the start of that exercise i click the moment both paws are off the ground, then further up even if there's no balance...the dog has to learn how to balance it's weight so it doesn't fall over.

At young age he might not even have enough tail strenght to old himself up for more than a couple of seconds...it comes over time :rolleyes:

 

Have fun :D

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